Hear me ROAR: Jaz, 7, finds voice to inspire others

Published 12:11 am Saturday, October 1, 2016

Tina Brouwer may never forget the first time she met her second grade student Jaz Thompson at John L. Ory Magnet School.

On the first day of classes, the precocious 7-year-old walked right up to her new  teacher and said, “I’m Jaz. I’m a motivational speaker.”

She wasn’t kidding, either.

Jaz, the daughter of Koi and Jason Thompson of LaPlace, has indeed delivered several motivational speeches at various churches throughout the area, using her booming voice and bigger-than-life personality to inspire others.

“Sometimes they just come to me and sometimes they don’t,” she said.

Two of her speeches especially stand out.

“The first speech I did was for a famous football player named Lionel Washington,” Jaz said. “He gave a little football camp and he invited me to motivate the kids. The other one I did at a beauty salon. That one was about health, self-esteem and beauty tips.”

She certainly inspired Washington, the co-defensive coordinator of the Tulane Green Wave. The Lutcher native and Louisiana Sports Hall of Famer has known Jaz’s family for years and saw her deliver a rousing speech at First Baptist Church in Vacherie, where her grandfather, John McGee, is Pastor.

“She was just amazing,” Washington said. “There was just something about her, with that big voice and big personality.”

Jaz was so memorable, in fact, that when Washington put together a football camp for kids at the church in June, he invited Jaz to speak.

“You should have seen those kids’ faces,” he said. “She is a little woman, I tell you.”

Washington even filmed the speech on his phone.

“I still share it with people,” said Washington, who plans to invite her to future events. “They’re all amazed, asking ‘how old is she?’ She is awesome and then some.”

When she’s not delivering speeches, Jaz is singing in her church choir, taking acting classes and music classes at her school.

She wants to be a movie star someday, but she really loves to sing. She insists she “came out of her mommy’s tummy singing,” and admits a love for Katy Perry and MC Hammer.

“I just love to open my mouth,” she said. “Hey, it’s just me. I sing songs that are real, but sometimes I make up songs too.”

Ory music teacher Connie Sparacello said Jaz is a model student.

“She is often the first to volunteer for things like saying the pledge or singing the National Anthem for the morning announcements,” Sparacello said. “She’s very caring and down to earth. She’s a super great kid.”

Brouwer isn’t really surprised. She taught Jaz’s mother, Koi, years ago and remembers her, as well. Jaz, she said, is special.

“This child brightens my day when she walks through the door,” Brouwer said. “She is a breath of fresh air. Her personality is out of this world. You cannot help but to smile and be in a good mood when (you’re) around her. Her energy is so positive that it’s contagious. I feel lucky to be her teacher.”

Jaz seems to return that sentiment.

“The best thing about second grade is the teachers and the learning and the tests,” Jaz said.

“I just love everything about second grade.”